It is sort of welcoming that President Paul Kagame has released 2000 political prisoners. However, there is no reason to really celebrate it. Not like Kagame is reforming his ways or trying to open up for multi-party democracy, even as there is one Opposition MP in the Parliament after the recent election. Not like that person’s voice will cause a revolution.
We should know that the freedom of Victorie Ingabire Umuhoza, the opposition leader and President of FDU-Inkingi, which was arrested and detained on terrorism charges, because she challenged Kagame before the August 2010 Presidential Elections. She was later arrested in October 2010, since then she was detained on the charges explained below.
“The Applicant avers that on 10 February, 2010, she received a summons requiring her to appear before a judicial police officer at the Criminal Investigation Department (ClD). According to her, she was accused of committing the offence of aiding and abetting terrorism, punishable under Article 12 of Law No. 45/2009 of 9 September, 2008, on the punishment of the offence of terrorism. She states that the allegations were “exclusively based on contacts she is said to have had with some defectors of the Forces Ddmocratiques de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR), with a view to establishing an armed branch of the political party called Forces Democratiques Unifiees, of which she is President”. She further submits that she was also charged with “spreading the ideology of genooide, sectarianism and divisionism” (African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights – ‘In the matter of Ingabire Victorie Umuhoza V. Republic of Rwanda – Judgment’ (24.11.2017).
Even if Ingabire Umuhoza now is released and allowed to do political work for FDU-Inkingi, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) still owns the Republic and Kagame is not limiting his powers. He still controls it all and everyone else, he does this for brownie points and making him look better. Even as that is not the reality. If it was so, the torture, the treatment of Ingabire and everything that happen to her while incarcerated. There was even reports of lacking of food and other acts of ill-treatment of her. She is certainly not alone in those acts of impunity against citizens behind bars. That is why, we cannot just celebrate the 2000 liberated political prisoners.
That is because we cannot give this away and give Kagame the props. Because then I am playing in the hands of him and I cannot do that. His able to play around the board of Arsenal, but the rest of us knows Red Cards, when we see them.
She was arrested for eight years on forged charges, that was the rest of them too. If not, why could Kagame suddenly show mercy to them all? If he didn’t know that he was the man behind their demise and the reason for their pain. Kagame knows this and trying to get positive news behind him. Even if they are not saying he is the reason for their demise. Which all of the pardoned prisoners should say, as the political prisoners most of them was.
Ingabire was the biggest one of the pardoned prisoners, there are still plenty of them behind bars. The other one that has challenged Kagame for Presidential Elections was Diane Rwigara, that is currently still behind bars and the state has sold of the properties of the family. While also arrested several of her relatives. So, it is not like the RPF and Kagame have changed, because they are still acting with impunity. That should never be forgotten, it is not like these pardons has changed the reality of what the Kagame regime is. Peace.